Dozens of Paris Colony residents on Monday staged a demonstration to protest the Environment Protection Department’s failure to close down nine factories illegally operating in the area.
They said waste from these factories was polluting the environment and causing inconvenience for the residents. They chanted slogans against the environment protection district officer for his failure to take action against the factories.
A document presented to the media stated that the chief minister had in October 2013 directed the Lahore district coordination officer to visit the site and take action against the factories if they were violating rules and regulations.
The protestors said an inquiry had later been conducted by the district government which resulted in the closure of two of the nine factories earlier this year (a drugs factory was sealed in the last week of February and a marble factory in March). However, they said, the factories later resumed operations. The protestors said the two factories were still dumping their waste in the streets and nearby vacant plots.
Environment Protection District Officer Younis Zahid told The Express Tribune that the factories were allowed to operate on the condition that they would move out of the residential area. He said the marble factory was given three months and the medicine factory a year to shift out of the colony. Meanwhile, he said, the factories were asked to ensure that they observed all the rules and regulations regarding prevention of environmental pollution and workers’ safety. He said action would be taken against them if they were found violating the law.
In a report submitted to the district coordination officer, the district officer had mentioned that the factories were using power generators without taking necessary precautions and dumping solid waste including broken glass bottles in public spaces and other waste products without required treatment. He also said that the loading and unloading of goods was causing inconvenience to the nearby residents.
The report had stated that the factories had been constructed illegally in the area originally meant to be used only for residential purposes. The establishments also violated rules and regulations on buildings and health and safety, it added.
Notices had also been issued to the seven other factories for violation of Section 12 of the Punjab Environment Protection Act (PEPA). However, no action had been taken against them.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2015.
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